Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education Candidate Malia Lewis
Education: M.F.A., Technical Design & Production, Yale School of Drama; B.A. in English Literature Harvard & Radcliffe Colleges; International Baccalaureate, Ecole Active Bilingue
Landlord & Property Manager, current member of the Board of Education
The School District has made a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and educational equity. Do you agree with this commitment? If yes, what would you do as a Board member to support those values and promote student success?
Yes, I agree with the District's commitment to diversity, inclusion, and educational equity. I have sat on the Equity Task Force for many years & am deeply committed to the work of Diversity, Inclusion, and Educational Equity in the District. We are starting to see the results of our ongoing work with Heights High making the College Board AP Honor Roll for both increased AP course enrollment and increased AP exam scores. We have begun a Grow Your Own Program so classified staff can earn a college/teaching degree at CSU. The School Board recently passed a resolution promoting the use of culturally relevant curriculum. By facing disparities between subgroups, we can meet students' needs and improve academic outcomes.
Regarding the Community Learning Center (“CLC”) that the School District and some community partners are implementing at Noble Elementary School, how would you as a Board member support the CLC and encourage the Noble community to utilize its wraparound social and medical services?
The District is excited to pilot our first Community Learning Center at Noble. Noble principal, Patrick Carpenter, and Noble PTA have already established multiple partnerships with community agencies (CH-UH Library, Lake Erie Ink, etc.). The CLC will provide a framework for more and stronger collaborations to help Noble families and the wider Noble neighborhood. I will use my existing relationships with CH City Council and the CH-UH Libraries to explore closer collaboration and encourage community input as the Library plans its expansion and closing Montevista Road at Noble Road.
What actions do you think the Board should take to maintain the fiscal health of the School District? How would these actions affect the quality of its academic and extracurricular offerings?
The current School Board is much attuned to the need to control expenses in the District. We completed the middle schools’ renovations on time and under budget, returning $1 million to the permanent improvement fund for use on other buildings which need maintenance and repairs. We have passed budgets with significant cuts three years in a row, totaling $5.2 million in savings. We negotiated a fair and sustainable contract which saves tax payers $1.5 million per year. We recently refinanced the bonds which paid for the high school and middle schools’ renovations to save residents $18.5 million in future property taxes (which will not be collected over the next decade or so). We are working towards a five-year levy cycle.
What role should environmental considerations play in the Board of Education’s policies and actions?
Environmental considerations are one part of sustainability. As a current Board member, I take into account many forms of sustainability when making decisions: economic, environmental, educational, and staff. As we plan to return school buses to Wiley from their temporary home at Park Synagogue on Mayfield Road, we are including infrastructure which will allow for future addition of solar panels. Re-opening the facilities process after a year's hiatus due to COVID is crucial to maintaining the District's sustainability and falls squarely within the framework of reduce, reuse, recycle. I want to keep collaborating with other public entities on joint reuse of some of our excess building capacity.
What challenges or opportunities do you think are presented by the School District’s continued ownership of properties that are no longer used for classroom purposes?
Challenges: balancing between the competing interests of the District and those of some sections of the community. We have two buildings which are not currently being used as schools: Milliken and Wiley. Milliken saves the District money by consolidating our in-house trades, their tools, supplies, and work shops. Wiley allowed us to provide a remote learning center last school year. We also collaborate with other entities who use the space: UH City Council, Fire Dept, Red Cross. Wiley will provide more opportunities in the future for greater cooperation between entities for the public good as we revisit our facilities planning. The process was temporarily halted by the pandemic; it is time to get back to that work.